I like to drive. I enjoy feeling the acceleration and being in control of my vehicle. The concept of being driven by a computer seems a bit odd.
However, driverless cars are coming. A few states have already made them legal. The research, thus far, looks very positive.
Did you know that 90% of all crashes are caused by driver error? Perhaps then, if we remove “drivers” from the equation, crashes will decrease by 90%? Is this possible?
According to reports, as carmakers automate more aspects of driving, crashes will likely decrease significantly. If this occurs, car owners will need less insurance coverage, and rates will drop substantially. Some experts estimate that premiums could drop as much as "60 percent in 15 years." (Sidenote: Do we really think the auto insurance companies will allow this to happen??)
Question: Who is responsible if a crash occurs with a driverless vehicle – the manufacturer or the vehicle owner? This is the ongoing debate that fuels speculation.
However, this issue now looks as though it has been resolved. Mercedes, Volvo and Google all say that THEY will assume responsibility for crashes caused by their driverless vehicles. Wow – talk about putting your money where your mouth is.
When is this likely to occur? Certainly it will be a slow transition, and full integration is still decades away. But is there technology that can help decrease car crashes now – short of driverless cars? Yes, there is.
Modern technology exists to help drivers minimize or avoid crashes altogether. It is known as “advance collision warning technology”. It is relatively simple, and very much like the driverless cars, it works.
It does not take the human driver out of the driver’s seat, but rather, helps the driver by warning him/her of an approaching object and even assisting the vehicle in braking to avoid a crash.
Is it common? Well, BMW has been using the technology in its vehicles since 2006. The concept: When sensors in your car detect an object or vehicle within its protection zone, it warns the driver. This can occur in a variety of ways:
- A light vibration of the steering wheel;
- A light vibration of the driver’s seat;
- Lights that flash;
- A warning sound that alerts the driver;
- An automated voice that lets you know something is about to happen;
- Automatic braking to slow your vehicle, in conjunction with driver warnings to advance the braking to avoid a crash.
The cost of implementing these measures into all cars has become much more affordable over the years. Why then aren’t we seeing it? The simple answer to this is that auto manufacturers have placed profits over safety. Currently, it is only installed in the highest-end models of vehicles, with – yes, you guessed it, a high price tag. When questioned about it, the manufacturers contend it is expensive and cost prohibitive (although they have yet to divulge the per unit cost of the hardware).
Likely the initial research and development was pricey, but like all technology, the hardware cost per unit is extremely affordable – for everyone.
The manufacturers also say that it is annoying, that people don’t want it because they “don’t want to be annoyed”. Really?
As a recent purchaser of a vehicle with the advance collision warning technology, I can honestly say that the warning system is anything but annoying. It is quite subtle, in fact – a gentle reminder to pay attention to the road.
With all of the distractions we have now, with cell phones and texting, especially for young drivers, I believe that we need all the help we can get. Advance Collision Warning Technology works. Indeed, it is truly these systems which make driverless cars even possible.
Is this scary? Yeah, a bit – you are trusting a machine to do your looking and thinking for you. But all tests prove that it works. Recently, to test the technology, a fully-loaded Budweiser beer truck was operated driverlessly in Colorado, making a delivery 120 miles from the brewery to a retail location. Per all reports, the trip was flawless.
The technology is coming. We welcome any systems which help reduce or prevent crashes, injuries and deaths. Honestly, who wouldn’t?